The Europa League is down to its final four teams and there are some very intriguing ties to be played out to decipher who will lift the trophy come the end of the season.
Premier League side Manchester United will take on Serie A side AS Roma as the two remaining strongest teams in the competition, with Arsenal going head-to-head against their former manager when they take on Villarreal.
We’ll preview both knockout ties once again and give our predictions as we have done for every English club tie in the competition so far, starting with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side’s trip to take on the side from the Italian capital.
The Red Devils fell into the Europa League after a disappointing showing in the Champions League group stages, where they failed to get the one point they needed from their final two games and and crashed out behind PSG and RB Leipzig.
They were able to comfortably dispatch of Real Sociedad in the last 32 before beating AC Milan in the last 16 and Granada in the quarter-finals to set this tie up, all while keeping up their good performances in the Premier League to all but secure second place behind Manchester City.
They’ve lost just once since a defeat to Sheffield United in January, being eliminated by Leicester in the FA Cup quarter-finals to make it just one loss in 21 games. Since that defeat to Leicester they have won five out of six, although they were held by Leeds at the weekend to a 0-0 draw.
Roma on the other hand were in the Europa League from the start of the season, winning their group including Young Boys, CFR Cluj and CSKA Sofia. They then won home and away against Braga in the last 32 and Shakhtar Donetsk in the last 16, before a back and forth tie against Ajax in the quarter-finals saw them win in Amsterdam and then held in Rome to claim a tight win.
In Serie A their form hasn’t been as positive, as they currently sit in seventh place in the league comfortably out of the race for the Champions League places for next season. They won just twice in their last eight games in all competitions in the build up to this game and were beaten 3-2 by Cagliari at the weekend.
They’ve suffered with injury problems in recent weeks, but former Manchester United duo Chris Smalling and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are back and should start the game.
Mkhitaryan has been one of Roma’s best players this season, with 11 goals and nine assists in all competitions. He was key when Manchester United lifted this trophy in 2017 under Jose Mourinho, scoring in the final, but this season he has struggled in Europe for the most part.
As the Reds look to win a trophy for the first time since that success under Mourinho, Solskjaer looks to prioritise this tournament and will likely go with a strong team. Anthony Martial is injured and Marcus Rashford is battling through the pain barrier constantly, but other than that the club have a clean bill of health to choose from.
It’s hard to see how Manchester United could fail to progress into the next round without criminally under-performing. They are comfortably the best team left in the competition and Solskjaer absolutely must break the semi-final hoodoo that he has had since taking over two-and-a-half years ago.
Defensively they’re better, going forward they’re better and they have the better individual players too to create a moment of magic if necessary. Considering the way they have been able to perform in recent months, I’d be very surprised if they weren’t able to get through to the final.
With the first leg at home this time, United will need to ensure a positive result at Old Trafford to take with them to Italy to make sure there is as little pressure on the second leg as possible. A home win will allow for them to be able to play on the counter attack in the Stadio Olimpico, which suits the team’s strengths far more than having to break them down.
Man Utd 2-0 Roma
Roma 1-2 Man Utd
(Manchester United to progress 4-1 on aggregate)